Trevor Noah ended his “Daily” task thinking more than laughing.
The host of Comedy Central’s flagship program bid a low-key farewell to a small studio audience that gathered Thursday for the final broadcast of “The Daily Show” of his tenure. An early-evening taping held in front of fans, crew and current and former network executives featured appearances by many of the show’s correspondents, including Jordan Klepper, Roy Wood Jr. and Desi Lydic, as well as Noah’s longtime friend, comedian Neal Brennan.
Absent were the celebrity visits and flashy fanfare that typically mark transitions in TV’s late-night arena.
“My friends are my favorite guests,” Noah explained.
The evening included a segment for each correspondent as well as one final series of person-on- the-street interviews by Klepper, who asked New York City passersby what they made of Noah’s departure.
But the bulk of the evening belonged to Noah, who used the show’s last segment to try and make sense of a surreal seven-year journey during which he was plucked from near-obscurity in the U.S. and asked to succeed Jon Stewart, who anchored the program for 16 years. He urged his audience to rise above red-versus-blue positioning when trying to solve problems and to think more before reacting to information found online.
“Please don’t forget the world is a friendlier place than the Internet or the news would make you think,” Noah said.
Noah surprised fans and even his producers and executives at network parent Paramount Global in September when he revealed on the show’s set that he intended to leave his role as just the third host of the long-running program, citing a desire to test new pursuits. He told the crowd Thursday that they should be “celebrating” his departure, rather than bemoaning it. Even so, his exit creates a challenge for the media conglomerate, which counts on “Daily” to draw a younger crowd than the more heavily watched wee-hours programs on NBC, ABC and CBS.
When “Daily” returns in mid-January, it will rely on a shifting group of guest hosts and correspondents who will lead each evening in duos and trios. Among those booked to help out with m weeks ahead are Al Franken, Chelsea Handler, D. L. Hughley, Leslie Jones, John Leguizamo, Hasan Minhaj, Kal Penn, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes and Marlon Wayans.
Before any of that gets underway, Noah wrapped his tenure on the program. He brought much-needed diversity to the daypart, which is filled with white, male hosts. And he grew up in South Africa, giving him an outside viewpoint when poking fun at U.S. events and politics. His run on the show was “the wildest journey,” Noah said .
Show staff surprised the host at the end of the program, enlisting the studio audience to burst into a rendition of Gerry & the Pacemakers’ “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a tribute to the accolades that departing players on Noah’s favorite Liverpool football team get when they step away from the sport.